“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
This quote was posted inside the Wizards locker room tonight, very apropos for the game. The Wizards came in tonight as the worst team in the NBA at 1-12, facing off against the best team in the NBA in the 12-2 Oklahoma City Thunder. The Verizon Center was packed with fans that wanted see Baltimore’s own Kevin Durant, and expected a big game from him against the Wizards. Boos came from all directions at Andray Blatche, who has lost all respect with the fans. It wasn’t shaping up to be a good night for the Wiz.
But tonight the Washington Professional Basketball Team demonstrated that they could compete with the best of the best in a thrilling victory over the Thunder 105-102.
In between the 3rd and 4th quarter of today’s Washington Wizards match against the Houston Rockets, Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like An Eagle” filled the Verizon Center. I thought it was fitting since it is the first track on the Space Jam soundtrack and coach Flip Saunders recently commented that the team, “looked like ‘Space Jam’ where everyone lost all their talents and couldn’t do anything there for a while.”
Listening to those lyrics it was very clear that for the Wizards time was indeed slipping as the Wizards lost the game 106-114.
John Wall reached a career high 38 points including 18 in the final quarter but the Wizards couldn’t catch back up after keeping it competitive in the first half. Wall looked aggressive, attacked the hoop, and landed a spectacular dunk in the third quarter.
Wall wasn’t the only Wizards slamming the boards today, JaVale McGee had several highlight worthy finishes including a second half dunk that caught Flip’s eye- not for good reason however.
Melo Takes Toney Under His Wing
courtesy of MattBritt00
With the acquisition of center Tyson Chandler, the New York Knicks hoped to enter the season with their own “Big Three”: Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Carmelo Anthony. Like many other recent “dream teams” in sports, the Knicks have started off slow winning only two of their first six. Tonight the story was different as Anthony, Stoudemire, and Chandler combined for 72 points in a 99-96 win over the Washington Wizards.
Unlike the Wizards’ previous game- where the team was doomed after starting the game 0-12 in the field, the Wiz played competitive all four quarters. The Wizards outscored the Knicks 32-18 in the opening quarter but cooled off towards halftime. The Knicks regained the lead early the third quarter but Washington kept it close. Nick Young missed a three-pointer at the buzzer that could of sent the game into overtime.
“They played hard- one thing they didn’t do was hang their head,” Coach Flip Saunders said after the game. Before the game he described it as a “must play hard” situation- and it looks like the Wizards did that at least.
If you have been referring to Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett as Boston’s “Big Three”- you need to think again.
Rajon Rondo is out to prove this season that it’s actually Boston’s “Big Four”. The Wizards were the latest victim to the Boston Point Guard that started the season with back-to-back double-double performances and unleashed terror on the court last night with a triple-double performance (18 points, 11 rebounds, 14 assists) in a Celtics win over the Wizards 94-86.
Nick Young and Andray Blatche
courtesy of Keith Allison
For most of the country the main headline coming out of the Washington Wizards’ first game of the season was the boos directed towards ex-Kardashian Kris Humphries. I feel bad for NBA fans and coaches who probably have no idea why Humphries is the most hated person in the league.
For DC and the rest of Wizards Nation, they saw yet another game slip through Washington’s hands as the Wiz went from a 37-16 lead over the Nets to a 84-90 defeat Monday night. The main Wizards headlines consisted of Andray Blatche being Andray Blatche in the locker room. After kicking off the game by addressing the crowd as the team’s “captain”, he ended the night addressing reporters in the locker room with complaints about the play-calling, telling reporters and Twitter that he needs the ball in the paint.
This isn’t the start the Wizards were looking for. Not only are fans already writing off the team as the one that hasn’t won more than 26 games in the past three years- but they are also growing tired of Blatche, who the team signed to a five-year extension back in September 2010. As for Blatche, he has one thing to say to the fans and media: shut up.
Welcome back to the NBA.
Friday the Wizards opened up their two-game pre-season with a very uninspiring 103-78 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. It wasn’t even close at any point during the night.
The media was quick to paint the Wizards as the same ol’ team:
It is going to be a Happy Holidays for the Washington Wizards.
Not only does December 25th mark the return of NBA across the country- the Wizards will open up 2012 with a New Years Day game against the Boston Celtics in the Verizon Center- a game that maybe closer than you think considering the Wizards’ last two victories at home against the Cs.
Basketball is back, and NBA fans across the country are enjoying all the drama, deals, and decisions that are flying about.
Now for those that don’t normally pay attention to basketball, those whose only NBA knowledge is the rash of superstar divorces (watch out Lamar & Khloe – you’re next), it’s time to catch you up.
I thought it would be fitting to preview the upcoming lockout-shortened season by answering a few questions to get everyone up to speed on DC’s Basketball Team and why you should be paying attention to them this season.
In case you were too busy hating on Jim Riggleman or trying to figure out Ron Artest’s crazy new name, the NBA held their draft this past Thursday and the Washington Wizards added three new players to the team. Coming into last week’s draft, many regarded the draft class as pretty bland. There weren’t any future LeBrons or Walls in this year’s draft, in fact the most exciting moment of the draft was when Wizards’ first-round pick Jan Vesely made out with his hot girlfriend Eva Kodouskova after hearing his name called.
Not gonna lie, it was pretty hot. Jan hears his name, buttons up his suit, his girl rises into the frame, waits a moment, and goes in for the kill. Even Joe House approves (of the kiss at least.)
Anyways if you want more on the kiss just read Kyle Weide’s story and interview over at Truth About It. He’s a great Wizards blogger and struck gold with the story.
For everybody else, here’s the quick and dirty info on the draftees because most likely the last time you heard about the Wiz was when they got those new fangled uniforms.
Sure Jordan Crawford and John Wall don’t look very excited in this photo, I’m sure they would rather be in the middle of an exciting NBA Playoffs that’s in full swing right now. However I am personally excited for what they are wearing- the new uniforms of the Washington Wizards.
At an unveiling this morning Wizard’s owner Ted Leonsis, Team President Ernie Grunfeld, and Head Coach Flip Saunders were among those on-hand to show-off the new look which both match the existing motif of other DC teams and take us back to the Red, White, and Blue stylings of the franchise’s past when they were better known as the Washington Bullets.
‘Wizards v Jazz – 01.17.11’
courtesy of ‘MudflapDC’
The 2010-11 Washington Wizards season, which ended Wednesday night with a 100-93 loss at Cleveland, will largely be remembered for the sparkling play of rookie point guard John Wall, who averaged 16.4 points and and 8.3 assists per game and would be a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year if it weren’t for the stunning emergence of Blake Griffin. Apart from that, however, most of the positives of this past season could only be seen on paper, rather than on the court.
To wit, in December, General Manager Ernie Grunfeld traded Gilbert Arenas and his horrendous contract to the Orlando Magic for the slightly less odious commitment made to Rashard Lewis. Two months later, with the NBA’s trade deadline approaching, Grunfeld swung a deal with the Atlanta Hawks that brought Mike Bibby and two promising young players to D.C. in the persons of Jordan Crawford and Mo Evans. Grunfeld then became even more fortunate when Bibby became so desperate to play for a contending team (eventually settling in Miami with the Heat) that he passed on all of the $6.2 million the Wizards would have owed him in 2011-12. Continue reading
Photo courtesy John Powell
My expectations for the Wizard’s final home game on Monday were sunk as soon as I saw the inactives.
“Garnett, O’Neal, Rondo”
Coming off a tough loss against the Miami Heat the night before, I was hoping to see Boston try and bounce back against the Wizards in an effort to fight for the two seed in the Eastern Conference. Instead the Celtics decided to mail it in, resting all of their starter and sending out the JV Squad.
Boston’s bench kept it competitive against a Wizard’s line-up that was also somewhat depleted. Josh Howard, Rashard Lewis, and Nick Young sat out with injuries. After a slow start in the game, shooting machine Jordan Crawford nailed a three with 38.8 seconds left in over-time to end a nail-biter that felt more like a snoozer due to the lack of star talent for Boston.
‘John Wall | Wizards’
courtesy of ‘Danilo.Lewis|Fotography’
Like a lot of things, basketball works in mysterious ways. If Austin Daye’s buzzer-beating three-point shot Tuesday night had done what many thought it was going to do and rattled through the net, Washington’s 107-105 win over the Detroit Pistons would instead have gone down as one of the three most excruciating losses of a largely excruciating season (my top two being the 95-94 home loss to Miami on December 18, the day the Gilbert Arenas trade was officially announced and the Wizards blew a four-point lead with 17 seconds remaining, and the 100-99 home loss to Orlando on November 27 that was settled with a Dwight Howard baby hook).
But Daye’s shot didn’t rattle through the net. Instead, it rattled back out, leaving the Wizards players shaken by just how close a call they’d had. “I’ve never seen [a shot like that],” said John Wall after the game. “I’ve never seen one go all the way in like that before coming out.”
“We’ve lost enough tough ones,” Flip Saunders said ruefully after the game. “We deserve a little bit of luck. That last one was definitely pretty right on.” Continue reading
‘Wall Ascending the Sky’
courtesy of ‘Mylar Bono’
Defying the odds and most expectations, the Washington Wizards gave the star-studded Miami Heat a run for their money Wednesday night at the Verizon Center, twice cutting their deficit to one point early in the fourth quarter. But ultimately, the 94 total points scored by LeBron James (35 points), Dwyane Wade (33 points), and Chris Bosh (26 points) proved too much to overcome as the Heat (52-23) defeated the Wizards 123-107.
As heartening as the performance was by the Wizards (18-56), it’s hard not to wonder what might have happened if Washington’s star rookie point guard John Wall hadn’t gotten himself thrown out of the game with 8:48 to go in the first half and the Wizards leading 37-36.
The incident began innocuously enough, as Zydrunas Ilgauskas grabbed a loose ball at the top of the key and was defended by Wall. As Ilgauskas turned to face the basket, the Wizards rookie got right into the Lithuanian’s personal space, and Ilgauskas responded by nudging Wall twice with his right elbow. Wall took a futile swipe at the ball as Ilgauskas brought it over his head, an action which left the Miami man’s midsection exposed. As Wall turned to face up to Ilgauskas, television replays showed that the Kentucky alum pursed his lips, picked a spot, and let fly with a right cross to Ilgauskas’ ribs at the same instant that the 7-foot-3 center reached out with his left arm to shove Wall further back. Continue reading
courtesy of ‘Keith Allison’
I’ll admit that I didn’t stay up for all of the Wizard’s 119-127 double overtime loss to the Clippers last night. Those West Coast games are killer on a work night.
However I didn’t need to see the entire game to see the unfolding story of Jordan Crawford. By the time I turned off the TV he was already racked up 20 points and 10 assists, pacing John Wall in assists as he was ended the night with a 25 pt, 10 ast line. Crawford has started to show some production with the increased playing time he’s received as the Wizards are recovering from injuries to Nick Young, Andray Blatche, Rashard Lewis, and Josh Howard. Crawford has taken advantage of the opportunity, racking up 20+ points in four of his last five games.
If I was a real basketball analyst I’d fire up Syngery and probably do a film study on him to see what he’s doing well.
Unfortunately I don’t have the thousands of dollars it probably costs to afford such sophisticated technology. So I went to the only film room I had access to: YouTube.
Sure clips on YouTube will be a cherry picked, highlight-laden, collection of clips. But at least I’ll be able to see what’s “public tape” on him.
So I ran a search and here’s what I found.
courtesy of ‘Keith Allison’
For a 122-101 loss against The Clippers, there was something about the night that made it somewhat enjoyable.
Well at least until the last quarter.
Maybe it was the energy of the sold-out crowd or my return to the Verizon Center’s blogger’s row after a lengthy absence (I was busy watching Oscar films for much of February). Maybe it was the anticipation of watching the 2009 top overall draft pick go up against the 2010 top overall draft pick. Whatever it was I found myself having a great time with my colleagues.
However I know The Wizards can’t say the same thing. They lost. Badly.
‘Wizards v Jazz – 01.17.11’
courtesy of ‘MudflapDC’
Today the Wizards will lose yet another player as Al Thornton is expected to officially clear waivers after the team waived him earlier this week. He is expected to sign with the Golden State Warriors, the same team that defeated the Wizards last night 106-102. Meanwhile the team also made an addition this week, re-signing D-leaguer Mustafa Shakur to back-up John Wall at point guard.
We’ve mentioned before about the level of turnover that’s occurred this season, when you are a 15-45 team in the basement of the Eastern Conference that’s to be expected. Even owner Ted Leonsis knows that this rebuilding season means going through a lot of losses and I commend the team for sticking to their strategy of amassing picks and young talent to build upon instead of taking the Synder-esque approach of patching the team through expensive free agents.
The team tried that last year when they patched their aging core of Arenas/Butler/Jamison with Randy Foye and Mike Miller and we all know how that went: a 26-56 record. With 23 games left in the season it’s realistic that we could match that again without the expensive contract/lackluster performance of Gilbert Arenas or the injuries that have plagued Butler and Jamison this year. Who knows if Caron or Antwan would of been injured had they stayed with the Wiz, but the fact they are both pushing 30 doesn’t bode well in general.
Looking at the Wizard’s strategy of rebuilding through the draft and young talent, I took a look at the team to see who’s a part of winning the Wizard’s future. Who we should be watching the rest of the season, and who’s pretty much as good as gone come the end of April.
‘Joakim Noah and JaVale McGee’
courtesy of ‘Keith Allison’
The first five minutes of Monday night’s Wizards game against the Chicago Bulls set the tone for the rest of the night. Chicago rebounded, blocked shots, and knocked Washington up enough to grab the reigns and dominate the game with a 105-77 victory.
“[The Bulls] reached in right from the beginning and took hold of the physicality of the game,” Wizards Coach Flip Saunders said after the game.
‘Mike Bibby and Jordan Crawford’
courtesy of ‘Keith Allison’
Well that was quick.
After playing in 14:41 minutes (correction that was his per game average) 29 minutes 21 seconds over two games for the Wizards, the team has bought out the contract of Mike Bibby, who was recently acquired last week from the Atlanta Hawks in a five player deal including Kurt Hinrich. The news was first reported by Dan Hellie over at NBC Washington.
Exact terms of the buyout are unknown at this time.
Bibby and the team have been in talks about a contract buyout and it was expected that Bibby’s days as a Wiz were numbered. He was surprised to hear about his trade last week and after nine years of playoff appearances, he most likely wanted to end up with a contender again this year. Among the teams interested in acquiring Bibby include Boston, Miami, Portland, and Denver.
‘Kurt Hinrich and Goran Dragic’
courtesy of ‘Keith Allison’
As today’s trade deadline for the NBA comes and goes, the Washington Wizards made their move by trading Kurt Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong to the Atlanta Hawks for Mike Bibby, Jordan Crawford, Maurice Evans, and a first round pick in this year’s draft.
At 34-23 the Hawks currently hold the 5th seed for the playoffs but lost their third game in a row last night and have the Melo-infused Knicks gaining ground on them in the standings. Hinrich will help the Hawks as a veteran role player, a job he embraced here in Washington filling in for John Wall throughout the season.
‘Verizon Center change over’
courtesy of Max Cook
Last Saturday was a busy day for the bull gang at Verizon Center.
Then again, the operations crew working in the hub of Chinatown is always busy.
Yet, last Saturday was a little bit different. Verizon Center makes multiple switches every week from a hockey arena for the Capitals to basketball for the Wizards with modifications for both Georgetown and the Mystics. Normally, it goes from basketball to hockey, a familiar process for the crew. On Saturday it was a quick afternoon turnaround though from hockey to basketball as the Caps played an uncharacteristic early-afternoon matinee at 12:30 p.m. and the Wizards had a later-than-usual start at 8:00 p.m.
Both teams lost. Badly.
It turned out to be a marathon day for this reporter. It came to the point where our fearless leader, Tom, was set to dispatch a St. Bernard to the Verizon Center with one of those little casks tied around its neck as part of a rescue team. Being a working Saturday, I naturally told Tom to have the St. Bernard’s cask (in my mind I called him TimBo) filled with tequila. A working man has a powerful thirst, you know.